Watersheds & Reservoirs

Metro Vancouver manages three watersheds, each with a water collecting reservoir, to provide 2.5 million residents with a clean, reliable and affordable supply of drinking water.

The watersheds are closed to the public for protection from pollution, erosion, fire and other hazards, with the exception of registered tours.

Outside of the protected watershed boundaries, there are hundreds of kilometres of trails to access the North Shore forests. Most users of these trails are not even aware the drinking water reservoirs are close by.

Watershed - a mountainous, basin-shaped area descending into valleys with common streams and rivers all channeling water into the same place, such as a reservoir.

Reservoir - the water that is collected from the watershed and stored for community water supply. There are natural reservoirs with granite or soil bases, and man-made reservoirs which are often concrete. Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam are all natural reservoirs.




Capilano Reservoir

North Vancouver's Capilano Reservoir supplies a third of the region's drinking water. The reservoir is contained by the Cleveland Dam (1954), also operated by Metro Vancouver. This reservoir sits in the steepest of the three watersheds that supply our drinking water.

Visitors can see the reservoir from Cleveland Dam at the north end of Capilano River Regional Park. You can also visit the Capilano River Hatchery, operated below Cleveland Dam since 1971.

Seymour Reservoir

Located in the North Shore Mountains the Seymour Reservoir supplies a third of the region's drinking water. Although the reservoir is closed to public access, the forests south of the reservoir, called the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR) are open to the public, offering many outdoor experiences, and the LSCR trails connect to many other popular trails on the North Shore.

The Seymour Dam (no public access) was reconstructed to modern standards including earthquake safety in 2007. Recently Metro Vancouver built a new drinking water filtration plant in the LSCR, visible from the main parking lot.

Coquitlam Reservoir

The Coquitlam Reservoir supplies a third of the region's drinking water. This supply proportion can increase to approximately half of the region's supply during the summer peak demand season.

The watershed sits just north of the city of Coquitlam, and has been a municipal drinking water source since the late 1890’s, (at that time, for the City of New Westminster). BC Hydro owns and operates the Coquitlam Dam (major seismic upgrade 2008) and has an agreement with the Province for electricity. Metro Vancouver has an agreement with BC Hydro for drinking water.

Recently Metro Vancouver through a joint initiative with the Kwikwetlem First Nation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, BC Hydro, and stewardship groups has been exploring the potential to return a natural salmon to the watershed through the Coquitlam River.